MAJOR PROBLEM: These Redblacks can't score touchdowns
While Ottawa Redblacks coach Rick Campbell says he’s focused on getting his team to the end of the CFL season and not yet worrying about what will need to be significant off-season lineup changes, it’s painfully obvious what’s No. 1 on the Fix It list.
An offence that is nowhere near good enough to compete in the CFL came up painfully short again Saturday – in a 33-12 loss in Hamilton. Bottom line, the offence needs to score points. Game after game, week after week, the team just isn’t good enough when it has the ball. How inept is the unit? Digest this – the offence has scored just 16 touchdowns this season. That’s one per game. Six points per game. Consider this – the next-worst offence(s) in the CFL are Edmonton and Toronto, each with 32, twice as many as Ottawa.
“Life’s tough in the CFL when you don’t score touchdowns and we’re not very good at scoring touchdowns right now,” said Campbell following Saturday’s disheartening loss in The Hammer. “I appreciate our players’ efforts, but we’re not in this for effort, we’re in this to win.”
Ottawa quarterback Will Arndt, in his second CFL start, completed 17-of-30 passes for just 112 yards. Tough to win games when you can’t complete passes downfield. And, it’s certainly not all on him. Ottawa’s longest passing gain of the night was a nice 26-yard reception by Caleb Holley.
“I have to do a better job of getting us started quickly,” said Arndt. “You have to be able to dictate circumstances if you want to have success in this league. Playing from behind is not an easy thing to do. You need to get out quick so you can make them play in a backpedalling mode as opposed to being progressive. There’s some stuff I missed and things I can clean up.
“I’m learning, I’m developing, but the name of the game is to win not just get better. Shoot, I’m a competitor. I feel sick to my stomach with all this losing. I want to be better for my teammates. If we could get right back at it (and play another game right away), I wish I could.”
At one point in the game, Arndt took a hard hit while throwing the ball and was on the turf for a bit, but finished the game.
“It’s normal football stuff, I’m fine,” he said. “I landed on my right shoulder and didn’t feel great. I was having a hard time trying to get a feel for it. That’s no excuse. It’s football, it’s a contact sport.”
The Redblacks, with a 3-13 record, are stuck in quicksand right now – in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. They finish out the season with a game in Toronto Saturday, then are home against Montreal on Nov. 1.
“We have 13 more days and we need to keep working and do the right thing – show up for work and put your best foot forward,” said Campbell, who was ticked off with a CFL Command Centre decision Saturday following a Coach’s Challenge by the Ticats after Sherrod Baltimore intercepted a Dane Evans pass intended for Brandon Banks in the end zone. The Command Centre overruled the officials and called pass interference on the Redblacks. There was a collision in the end zone well before the pass arrived, but it certainly didn’t look intentional. The score was 12-9 for Hamilton in the third quarter at the time.
Even if the weekly review by the CFL comes to the conclusion that the Command Centre made a mistake, it won’t do the Redblacks any good now. The team has been trying to figure things out offensively for much of the season – remember, six of their 16 offensive touchdowns happened in the very-promising first two weeks of the season, wins over Calgary and Saskatchewan.
“I would say it’s a frustrating one, we were competing – the game was in the balance in the third quarter,” said Campbell. “It’s frustrating that we can’t come up with plays when we need plays to be made. Obviously we have to find a way to be better to win games.”
It’ll be back to work Monday for the Redblacks as they get ready for the Battle for the Basement – the Argos are also 3-13. It’s been a tough season both physically and mentally, something the players will have to get past.
“It is tough on your mind,” said SAM linebacker Cioffi. “The thing about it is, you have to realize the situation you’re in and continue to find the good in it so you continue to grow as a player. These trials and tribulations mould you into the player you are. Not every team is going to be great, there’s going to be good and bad.”
Kudos to Hamilton’s defence, but is it possible the Redblacks offence is really this bad? Yep. How about this for ineptitude – 112 yards passing and 50 yards rushing, resulting in four field goals and no touchdowns? Embarrassing. Period. No catches for the team’s top receiver, Dominique Rhymes. Four catches for 17 yards for Brad Sinopoli. Brendan Gillanders, getting another start at running back, rushed for 50 yards, including one for 29, in eight carries.
The defence held the team in the game into the third quarter. Maybe they just got worn down. They were hurt by some big plays, but the numbers – the Ticats had 456 yards passing and 113 yards rushing don’t tell the whole story. Safety Randall Evans had eight tackles. Anthony Cioffi, J.R. Tavai and Avery Ellis had sacks.
Special Teams: C
Lewis Ward booted four field goals, including a 56-yarder that gives him the record for longest three-pointer by a kicker playing for an Ottawa CFL team (Rough Riders, Renegades and Redblacks). The Ticats had a successful onside kick. Nice blocked punt by Anthony Cioffi. Nice fake punt, with Richie Leone completing a pass to Anthony Gosselin, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty. A month ago in B.C., another Leone fake punt and pass to Gosselin was squashed when the team got an ineligible receiver penalty.
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